Stanford found an offense and a quarterback in its 48-0 road victory against Colorado on Saturday, and the discovery of the latter is the chief reason the No. 16 Cardinal finally demonstrated an ability to move the ball and score points.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan entered the game on Stanford’s third possession, taking over an offense that had done virtually nothing in three previous road games or in the previous week’s game against Washington State or in the first two possessions against the Buffaloes with starter Josh Nunes at quarterback.
All Hogan did was direct Stanford to touchdowns on his first four drives and scores on his first six possessions, including five touchdowns. He entered with just one second left in the first quarter and did not play in the fourth, but led the Cardinal to 38 points in the two quarters he played.
“You see the mobility,” Stanford coach David Shaw said of Hogan. “It’s not just his scrambling ability for a couple of yards. He’s fast. He’s athletic. He can throw on the move to the left or right.”
Hogan finished 18-for-23 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and rushed seven times for 48 yards.
Several things need to be considered, however, before Hogan is anointed as another Andrew Luck.
- Hogan did it against Colorado, which has one of the worst defenses in the country and has yielded more points than any other FBS team. What Hogan faces in the Cardinal’s final three games against Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA will be much different.
- Defenses will now begin to game plan for Hogan, whose skills as a runner and whose passing style are considerably different from those of Nunes, who started Stanford’s first nine games.
- Hogan benefited from favorable field position the first time he took the field against Colorado and then benefited from the momentum developed in the first few drives.
But there are a number of reasons to suggest Hogan will make a major difference for Stanford, which needed some offense to complement its outstanding defense.
At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, Hogan is the kind of big, strong, aggressive presence who fits the physical identity Stanford wants to display on offense.
Hogan also offers a lot more variety. He can effectively run the option. He can roll out to either side and throw effectively, or he can pass from the pocket. He can run on planned runs or a scramble. He can toss touch passes or he can fire lasers.
Hogan is more decisive than Nunes, making his reads quickly and getting rid of the ball quickly, which not only increases productivity but creates a better offensive rhythm.
Finally, Hogan provides more creativity. He can make something happen when nothing seems to exist. Twice he completed passes against Colorado when he seemed to be wrapped up by defenders.